ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Out of the Barrel of a Gun

India and elements of the Nepali polity turn a blind eye to violation of the principle of civilian supremacy.

No doubt Nepal is now a “secular, democratic republic”, no longer a “Hindu kingdom”. The “Royal” tag of the Nepal Army (NA) has been dispensed with too. But that narrow stratum of the upper caste elite that has commanded the army and the administration remains in place. And, if the crisis precipitated by the (ceremonial) president revoking the order of the Ministry of Defence sacking Chief of Army Staff, Rookmangud Katawal for repeated insubordination and defiance, which provoked the resignation of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), is anything to go by, the top brass of the army and the leadership of the Nepali Congress (NC) and the centre-left Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) [CPN(UML)] can count on each other in the struggle to retain what is left of the “old order”. The feudal monarchy at the centre of that order is gone, but the rest of the structure of the state and the economic base remains – Nepali capital continues to play second fiddle to Indian capital; the semi-feudal satraps retain their power and privileges, while social discrimination and economic deprivation continue to be rife.

Even as the process of drafting the constitution of the “new Nepal” is underway, the key to a New Democratic Nepal is the integration of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into the NA, and alongside, the “restructuring” and “democratisation” of the latter. Besides, “integration”, “restructuring” and “democratisation” are imperatives that have been written into the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) 2006 and the Interim Constitution. Indeed, with the integration of some 20,000 guerrillas of the PLA into the 90,000 strong NA, and assuming that the officer core also maintains the same proportion, the possibility of a reactionary coup of the kind that Gyanendra, with the backing of the Royal Nepal Army, staged in February 2005 diminishes drastically, as also, apprehensions that the integrated army will become a force taking orders from the Maoists outside the confines of the constitution will have little rational basis.

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